Fake football coaching apprenticeship cost Skills Funding Agency millions

5th February 2018 at 17:46
Former footballers Mark Aizlewood and Paul Sugrue among six men who will be sentenced later this month for their part in the £5 million fraud

Four men, including two former professional footballers, have been found guilty today of taking part in a major fraud in which the Skills Funding Agency paid out £5 million for a fake football coaching apprenticeship scheme.

Former Wales defender Mark Aizlewood, 56, and Paul Sugrue, 57, who played for clubs such as Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City, ran the scheme through a business, Luis Michael Training Ltd.

The pair, along with fellow directors Keith Williams and Christopher Martin, submitted false documents to colleges to persuade them to do business with the firm – a provider of football-based apprenticeship schemes for young people.

They used endorsements from former footballer Ian Rush and references to professional football clubs on leaflets to make the company appear legitimate.

Other defendants Stephen Gooding and Jack Harper helped to find learners for the fake scheme.

Gooding and Martin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation before the start of the trial at Southwark Crown Court last year. Aizlewood, Sugrue, Williams and Harper pleaded not guilty.

'Ghost learners'

The young people on the scheme were told that they would be earning £95 a week while studying for an NVQ in Activity Leadership. Apprenticeships were supposed to have at least 30 hours of teaching each week. Most students on courses with Luis Michael Training Ltd received two to three hours.

Apprentices were not paid the promised £95 a week. Some were not paid at all, whereas others got just £10 a week.

Many of the 3,000 students enrolled were "ghost learners" who were signed up without their knowledge and never attended a single class.

When the scam unravelled, the Skills Funding Agency demanded some of the money back that it had paid to colleges for courses.

Schools and colleges had to return £3.5 million, leaving some unable to provide other school services.

The six men will be sentenced on February 26 at Southwark Crown Court, London.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn

Loved these articles?

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you’ll get access to more news, courses, jobs and teaching resources.

Login/Register now


Related Content

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now